Student with atypical background

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Chad
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Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:31 am

Student with atypical background

Postby Chad » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:40 am

I've come to the law school decision in a more roundabout path then most people. I want to know whether my unique experiences will make me a better candidate then my slightly above average grades and scores may suggest. My goal is to get into a top 15 program (my reach is U. Chicago, but also looking at Georgetown, George Washington, Penn, etc)

The rundown:
-Graduated from Indiana University in 2002 with a 3.6, got dual B.A.'s in psychology (with honors) and philosophy
-Went to Johns Hopkins to get a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience. After getting my Master's in 2009 I decided that research wasn't for me.
-Will take the LSAT this June, recently started practicing and so far scoring in the mid to upper 160's, hoping to end up with a score in the 170's
-Have worked part-time all through high school and undergrad, also have worked as a full time research scientist before and after grad school (I've heard law schools admissions looks highly on working stiffs)

Do you knowledgeable and venerable forum posters think I stand a good chance of nabbing a spot at a top 15 school, or is it time to start lowering my expectations?

yeff
Posts: 333
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:32 pm

Re: Student with atypical background

Postby yeff » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:55 am

The answer to your question is almost entirely found in the result of the LSAT.

The other stuff is, in comparison, almost laughably unimportant. That said, am I correct in understanding that you are scoring in the mid-to-upper 160s on your very first practice tests (under simulated conditions, with proper time limits, etc)?

If you are in that range pretty much cold, I'd say from personal experience that with significant study raising your score above 170 (perhaps above 175) is very very possible. With your undergrad GPA, Yale, Harvard, and Stanford are more or less out. The work experience and grad school don't negate the undergrad GPA.

But...depending on the LSAT, anything else from CCN (Columbia-Chicago-NYU) on down is very reachable.

Don't worry about your expectations or chancing yourself or any of that until you have an official LSAT score. From now until then, study your ass off to raise your score. There are lots of helpful tips and folks in the LSAT forum.

1. Now--> June: study like mad for LSAT
2. June-August: assemble application - get your letters of rec sent to LSAC, make your personal statement perfect, etc.
3. September: Apply as soon as applications are available.
[strike]4. ???[/strike]
5. Profit
Last edited by yeff on Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

Geist13
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Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:21 pm

Re: Student with atypical background

Postby Geist13 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:56 am

You're situation really isn't that uncommon. Very similar to mine. It's common enough that schools can boast about the percentage of matriculants with previous graduate degrees without actually considering such qualifications as remotely relevant in their admissions decision. Your Master's wont help you at all in the admissions process. They simply don't care. You have a good shot if you end up getting a 170+. If you get a 168 or 169 you could very possibly apply early decision to George Washington and get a full tuition scholarship.

http://www.law.gwu.edu/Admissions/apply ... early.aspx

Also bear in mind, to get a 170 on test day you probably should be testing in the 173-175 range. A lot of people (myself included) take significant drops in score on test day.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Student with atypical background

Postby blsingindisguise » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:17 am

With a 170+ yes you have a decent shot at a T15 school. Are you taking those mid-to-upper 160 tests under test-like timing/conditions?

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vanwinkle
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Re: Student with atypical background

Postby vanwinkle » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:38 am

173+ and you have a shot at the T6. 176+ and you have at least a shot at H and S. Y is just going to depend on whether or not they like your app.

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Chad
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Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:31 am

Re: Student with atypical background

Postby Chad » Sun May 02, 2010 1:13 pm

Thanks for the posts everyone, they were quite helpful. To clarify, I have been taking the practice tests under simulated conditions, and have already started to notice some improvement in my more recent tests.

I've been studying using the Powerscore Logic Games and Logical Reasoning Bibles, along with a supply of 20 actual lsat tests (including the 10 most recent). I started my studying with the Barron's Pass Key, but have found it pretty awful. The explanations and sample questions are alright, but the model tests include their own "LSAT-Like" questions which quite often have logical inconsistencies and seem more poorly written then the actual LSAT questions I've tried. I'm hoping that those mid 160 scores I've been posting are a result from the more challenging/poorer quality tests in the Barron's book and once I focus more on the actual LSAT tests my scores will jump.

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Chad
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Re: Student with atypical background

Postby Chad » Sun May 02, 2010 1:41 pm

I've thought about taking in October, but I want to apply this fall, and given my rather blah undergrad GPA I'm worried that unless I apply extremely early in the cycle I'll be seriously hampering my chances of getting into a T15. Since the Oct test wouldn't get me my results until early Nov., I don't know if that gives me enough time to really polish my applications and still get noticed before the late fall flood of applicants.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Student with atypical background

Postby vanwinkle » Sun May 02, 2010 1:48 pm

Early November is not bad. That's still early in terms of law school admission cycles. You can polish your applications all you want up until then and then pull the trigger on applying the day you have you score in hand.

Also, high score, November app >> lower score, September app. Every single time. The only reason it wouldn't is if you intend to ED for a school and that school won't take the October LSAT score, but GULC and UVA accept ED applications year-round now, giving you at least two T14 options there.

yeff
Posts: 333
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:32 pm

Re: Student with atypical background

Postby yeff » Mon May 03, 2010 11:35 am

Chad wrote:Thanks for the posts everyone, they were quite helpful. To clarify, I have been taking the practice tests under simulated conditions, and have already started to notice some improvement in my more recent tests.

I've been studying using the Powerscore Logic Games and Logical Reasoning Bibles, along with a supply of 20 actual lsat tests (including the 10 most recent). I started my studying with the Barron's Pass Key, but have found it pretty awful. The explanations and sample questions are alright, but the model tests include their own "LSAT-Like" questions which quite often have logical inconsistencies and seem more poorly written then the actual LSAT questions I've tried. I'm hoping that those mid 160 scores I've been posting are a result from the more challenging/poorer quality tests in the Barron's book and once I focus more on the actual LSAT tests my scores will jump.


Accept no substitutes. There are plenty of real LSAT questions. I would only use the real ones. Keep at it - my scores plateaued and leapt - a bunch in a row in a tight range, like 167-169, then a bunch in a row right at 173-175, then a bunch of 176-177 and a 180 or two.




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